Violence. Drugs. Crumbling turf. Vicious gangs; Charles Bronson ala in Paul Kersey mode would have a field day, but hey this isn't a "Death Wish" film. "3:15" easily ranks up there with the likes of "Class of 1984", "Savage Streets" and "The New Kids" of this 80s wave of violent school gang outings with no-bars hold revenge at its core. Bestowing an outstanding cast; Adam Baldwin (in a perfectly pitched performance) leads the way as Jeff Hanna who use to be in the ruthless street gang "The Cobras", but then he decides to go straight after a confrontation with the leader Cinco (a venomous Danny De La Paz). A year has past, but there's still ill-feeling there. This finally erupts when Cinco blames Hanna for a drug raid at the school which was orchestrated by the principal (a scheming Rene Auberjonois) and led by detective Moran (a neatly sardonic Ed Lauter). Despite the threats Hanna is happy to look the other way, until they threaten to assault his girlfriend (the delightful Deborah Foreman). Then he knows he must take up the offer to finally settle the score.
The plot plays out like a urban western as you have one man finding himself stuck in the middle of something there's no way out of, while without choice taking on the unbelievable odds by standing up, as everyone else just watches on. Standard mechanisms, but on this occasion its very well done, right down to its classic final showdown. Strangely is had me thinking of a very similar film that came out a year later "The Principal", which in the film's climatic showdown between the principal (an excellent James Belushi) and some punks drummed up some striking similarities in how things turn out.
You might call it b-grade, trashy exploitation with a decent looking budget
and you might be right. However its context it isn't trying to simply exploit despite its harsh, brutal details (although it might lie in the shadows to the previously mentioned films' mean-spirited vibe). The pulpy story is a little more thoughtful in its actions and depictions, where the characters have more weight which makes it all the more harrowing and gripping when it unfolds. These are characters trying to prove something (as image becomes an important factor) and just what lengths would they go to do so. Like the frightening expression on Foreman's character's face when she sees Hanna aggressively implode on one of the gang members. That's not saying it doesn't go over-the-top, but these dramatics only enhance the intensity. Director Larry Gross workably keeps the adrenaline levels high, even when it's not trying to be bitingly rough and gusty. It's gritty, edgy but competently staged with a pounding soundtrack to back it up. There are some other interesting faces showing up in the likes of Mario Van Peebles, Wayne Crawford, Scott McGinnis, Gina Gershon and Wings Hauser (who gets even less screen time than the visible boom mike).
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